Me: Jayden, I want you to make a list of things that you'd like to do together. Just me and you. We're going to do one thing each month. So, list 12 activities in total.
Young one: Why? What for?
Me: Because I want us to hang out. And have fun together.
Young one: Why? You want to spend time with me? Just me and you?
Me: Yes, is that OK?
Young one: Well, it's just going to be ME AND YOU?
Me: Yes, is that OK?
Young one: Just ME AND YOU??
The concept of one-on-ones
During a recent meeting with one of my business management clients, we talked about his concerns over his staff's apparent loss of momentum towards the last quarter of the year. He was brainstorming ways to keep his staff of five engaged and enthused throughout the New Year and asked for my input. He was concerned that while they have staff meetings every two weeks, he rarely connects with his staff members on an individual level except to talk about performance once or twice a year. I suggested he have "one-on-ones" once a month and he loved it. We talked at length about the benefits of having those touch points and what it does to foster the enriched work experience he wants to provide for his staff.
When our conversation concluded, I got to thinking about my family. As I continued to focus on writing and building my business, I felt like we lost momentum last year. While we are certainly connected as a family, I feel like there's something missing on the individual level. And while we engage in small activities to keep us connected, I wondered if there could be a better way to stay tuned-in to each child individually.
Enter: The parent-child one-on-ones
I have worked in the business management field for over 15 years, so the concept of one-on-ones with staff is tried and true. However, I never really thought about applying that same logic to the challenge of staying in touch with my children. With three children and only one me, it's difficult to remain engaged. Each child has their own personality, their own interests, their own activities, their own school projects... the list goes on and on. This past year, I was on a mission to keep our family connected; however, along the path, I lost some of the individual time that is so important to keeping us connected as parent and child.
In the conversation above, I was attempting to introduce this concept to my six-year-old son (who, by the way, has presented me with a list of 20+ activities... I only asked for 12... you can see where this is going already). When I told my 10-year-old daughter about my ideas she jumped on-board instantly. She and I do spend a lot of time together during her dance competitions and Girl Scouts activities but it's a little different than what I'm proposing in our one-on-ones. When I talked to the teenager his response was: "Ummm, yea, sure, ok." Gotta love teens, right?
The most important thing I will do for my children this year
One of the things that often gets lost in the life shuffle is quality time with our children. It's not something we do on purpose, for the most part. Work happens. Business happens. Other commitments happen. Life happens. What I want from this year is to make an impact on my children at an individual level. Sure, they will remember the family dinners, vacations, meetings and outings. But what I want most for them to remember is our one-on-ones. The times where it was just us two: spending quality time together and enjoying each other's company.
We start this month. I took the young one out for our one-on-one last weekend and my daughter is up next. I don't know what she wants to do just yet, but she assures me I will have lots of fun. I am truly hoping that the monthly one-on-ones will help me to remain an active part of my children's individual life experience. To make sure we don't lose family momentum, we will continue to do the little things that keep us connected -- and some big things too.
Carin shares lifestyle and parenting insights inspired by faith, family, and joy on her personal blog: Memoirs of a Clueless Woman. To learn how to successfully maximize your time usage, get her free eBook, The 5 Best Tips on How to Control Your Time and Get Things Done.